Cut serving of shepherd's pie on a serving plate.

Shepherd's Pie

Servings: 6
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
  • 6 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup half and half or cream, then a little more if needed
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 large celery rib, thinly diced (1/2 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (85 - 93% lean), or ground lamb
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (or more beef broth)
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup frozen peas


To Make Mashed Potatoes

  1. Add potatoes to pot with water: Place potatoes in a medium pot or large saucepan. Cover with water by 1-inch and season water with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

  2. Cook potatoes until tender: Let gently boil until potatoes are fully tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 - 15 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under hot water for about 5 seconds to remove excess starches (which can make potatoes gluey).

  3. Rice Potatoes: Drain potatoes then pass through a food mill or potato ricer into same pot*.

  4. Stir with liquid ingredients: Melt 5 Tbsp butter and add to potatoes along with half and half and sour cream. Stir just to combine while seasoning with salt to taste and adding an extra 1 -2 Tbsp half and half to thin if needed. Cover and set aside if filling isn't yet complete.

To Make Beef Filling (prepare while potatoes cook)

  1. Saute veggies: Melt remaining 1 Tbsp butter in a 12-inch (and deep) cast iron skillet. Add onion, carrots, celery and saute until nearly soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

  2. Cook beef: Add ground beef in chunks and cook and break up beef until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. If you find there's lots of excess fat then dab some up using balled up paper towels held by tongs (leave 1 - 2 Tbsp rendered fat).

  3. Add thickeners: Add flour and tomato paste and saute 1 minute.

  4. Pour in liquids, let reduce: Pour in red wine, beef broth, Worcestershire, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a simmer stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until reduced by about 2/3 (and alcohol scent has cooked off), about 8 - 10 minutes.

  5. Add remaining greens: Stir in peas and parsley and heat through, about 1 minute. Season filling with salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Assemble shepard's pie: Spread beef filling into an even layer. Dollop spoonfuls of mashed potatoes evenly over top then spread into an even layer**.

  7. Decorate: Run a fork along top to create a pattern of wavy rows.

  8. Bake: Move oven rack about 5-inches below broiler and preheat broiler to high. Transfer to oven and let broil until golden brown on top about 4 - 6 minutes (keep a close on it as every oven varies).

  9. Rest: Let rest a few minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • *Alternatively you can just mash with a potato masher they just won't be perfectly smooth.
  • *Rather than spooning potatoes you can pipe potatoes over filling using a resealable bag with the corner cut or you can make a design with potatoes using a piping bag fitted with a star shaped piping tip.

Possible Variations:

  • Add other vegetables like mushrooms and zucchini. If doing so brown beef separately. And transfer mixture to a metal or ceramic baking dish since it won't all fit in the cast iron pan.
  • Sprinkle potatoes with parmesan cheese before broiling for extra flavor.
  • Want even richer potatoes? Use heavy cream in place of half and half.